Back to the future! with Library SKILLS

Many of us are all to familiar with the ‘shoestring’ approach to school library resourcing. What is even worse is the lack of understanding of the purpose and role of a school library, and the work of a teacher librarian. Actually, I think some teacher librarians (library media specialists/librarians) also need a wake up call – but that’s a whole different story.back-to-the-future.jpg

However, there is no doubt, based on research, that schools should have qualified staff and appropriate resources. The Ofsted Report (UK) “Good School Libraries: Making a Difference to Learning” identifies factors that make good primary and secondary libraries. There are many school library impact studies, the most well-known being the Colorado Studies. Keep an eye out for one more Colorado Study, the third in a series of studies by the Library Research Service (LRS), which proves that school libraries have a direct link to student achievement. For more links, go to School Libraries make a difference to student learning on the IASL website.

How better to embrace 21st century learning than with a fabulous library centre and learning space that supports literacy, research, creativity, and multimodal/multimedia approaches to learning

Study after study proves that students in schools with well-stocked libraries and highly qualified, state-certified school librarians learn more………Today, only 60 percent of school libraries have full-time, state-certified school library media specialists on staff. With limited resources, school administrators are struggling to stretch dollars, and library resource budgets are increasingly being used to make up for shortfalls in other areas.

A press release from the American Library Association tells us that the US government is taking the research findings seriously.

Seems they are going Back to the Future – strengthening libraries again.

Legislation introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate last month is an essential step forward in ensuring that students across America have the library resources and support they need for a Twenty-First Century education.

[Hello? is anyone else listening?]

The Strengthening Kids’ Interest in Learning and Libraries or SKILLs Act guarantees that students across America will be served by highly qualified, state-certified school library media specialists and will have the library resources they need to succeed.

The SKILLs Act ensures that library funds will be available to serve students in elementary, middle and high schools throughout the nation; that appropriate books and materials will be available for students at all grade levels, including those with special learning needs and those learning English as a second language; and that highly qualified school library media specialists will be available to assist and support all students with their learning needs.

[what should we do to promote similar clear commitments in our own school, town, state or country?]


“Legislation Introduced to Ensure Essential Library Resources, Support for 21st Century Education.” American Library Association. 2007. (Accessed 22 Jul, 2007)

4 thoughts on “Back to the future! with Library SKILLS

  1. Hi Judy,

    Yes, someone is listening…and developing our advocacy skills with the media and politicians.

    This is a draft website which a group of TLs from around Australia are working on to support ALL TLs in getting school libraries and their importance into the media and on political agendas.

    Join us at The Hub at

    And keep us posted on what each of YOU are doing to advocate for school libraries in the public arena.

  2. I still must contact members of Congress about the SKILLS act but was disheartened when I saw another post with a House Member reply explaining that he’s opposing SKILLS on the grounds that elementary kids don’t do research and consequently there’s no need for pro Librarians @ ele. schools. Talk about short-sighted.

  3. This is so interesting—thank you for sharing. I am a new librarian, just completed my first year at “shoestring”-funded library. Two libraries, actually–I am the only librarian for a high school campus and an elementary campus. And there were NO databases when I came last year. NOT ONE. All they had was google and did not know how to use that for research….high schoolers still research from old magazines. I vowed to spend every dime of my budgets this year to get some databases, but the state education agency came through this summer and is going to fund this for us. The students and faculty will find the whole world on their desk…..amazing.

    I love my job as a librarian and want to be able to do more for this school system each year. Thanks for your thoughts–I will be checking back often. I need all the help I can get!

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